Jimmy Darmody To the Lost Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire – “To The Lost” Season Two Finale Review

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You don’t know me James. You never did. I am not seeking forgiveness.” -Nucky

Just so we’re all clear. There are going to be spoilers in this review. I know it should be implied but just in case you have NOT watched the season two finale, do not read this review yet. Go watch it and come back.

That being said, wow. That was not what I expected. At all. I’m still a little in shock. I’m not sure what I think. I know it makes sense in that world and I applaud the show for having the guts to do what they did. But I’m not sure I’m ready to live in a Jimmy Darmody-less Boardwalk Empire world.

Jimmy Darmody is dead. Killed at the hand of Nucky Thompson with the help of Manny Horowitz, Arnold Rothstein and Eli. Not only do we lose Jimmy but we lose Michael Pitt. Pitt was my favorite part of the show. He was completely compelling in every scene. He gave the show so much flare I suppose. I don’t always find Steve Buscemi 100 percent amazing and I certainly think the character of Nucky can be a bit of a bore. This episode is hard for me to digest. Jimmy Darmody was the most interesting and complex character on the show. A show that now has a huge void to fill.

Let’s take a second and isolate the events to the episode. After watching what happened to Jimmy in the end, it’s clear he knew what was coming. It’s brilliant actually. He tears up the will of his father and makes sure that his son is taken care of. He lets him go out on a horse ride by himself. In a great moment, the guide asks him, “Cowboy or soldier?” Jimmy’s son answers, “Soldier.” Like father like son. Perhaps the most telling moment before the deed was when he said goodbye to Richard Harrow. He tells him in drunken revelry to enjoy life. Richard says he’ll kill them all if he wants but Jimmy declines the offer. He knows what’s coming. He sort of embraces it. We saw how damaged he was last week by what his mother and the war had done to him. He never expected to come back from the war. That’s why he tells Nucky, “I died in that trench, years back. I thought you knew that.” Jimmy was a tortured soul and I won’t say he was looking for a way out but he sure didn’t fight it. He showed up to the meet with Nucky unarmed.

That scene between the two of them was so well shot. The whole episode was sweltering. Everyone was sweating and trying to cool down. They were fanning themselves, drinking water, loosening their ties. The heat was literally turned up for the entire episode. However, that confrontation was shot in an absolute downpour. It extinguished the heat. You have to love Jimmy trying to give some advice to Nucky on the way out about killing a guy for the first time. Jimmy urged Nucky in season one that he couldn’t be half of a gangster anymore. “No half measures,” if we want to quote Breaking Bad. It had to be Nucky to pull the trigger on Jimmy. We had to see that full transformation of Nucky.

It doesn’t mean I like it though. In an interview with Alan Sepinwall, Terrance winter said that he wanted people to be pissed off early in the hour. He wanted it to seem like they were going to kiss and make up and all would be forgiven. But there’s no way that in this world that could happen. This season finale sort of polarizes the Sons of Anarchy finale. You spend a whole season telling the audience something HAS to happen and then you go through with it. Very ballsy. Winter said he wanted to piss people off by making them think everything is going to be ok. I think he’ll piss a lot of people off by killing off the most dynamic part of the show. However, that anger will be present only in the short term. He stayed true to the show. True to the world he’s meticulously created.

It’s not as if Nucky gets off free in this episode. He pays quite a steep fine when Margaret catches him in a lie about what happened to Jimmy. She signs over the deed to the land that will make him richer than he already is over to the church. Nucky’s problems didn’t die with Jimmy. He married Margaret Schroeder to essentially save his life. He did a great job of lying to her saying it was all for the family. She may have only bought it slightly. I think she realizes this is the best of all evils. Nucky was counting on that money. We’ll see what’s left of that relationship when he finds out what she’s done.

It’s hard to think of anything else besides Darmody’s death. As soon as it happened I though, “Well the show’s over. There’s no more story to tell.” But that simply isn’t true. Agent Van Alden or rather “Mr. Mueller” ran away to Cicero where Al Capone really gets his crime going in the coming years. Chalky White is back in a position of power. Rothstein is being presented the heroin by Lucky and co. Eli is about to go to prison. Jimmy’s mother is still acting heir to the Commodore’s fortune I’d imagine until Nucky’s boy becomes of age. But most importantly, there’s still Richard Harrow. Winter said that unless these people are dead, they’re still a part of the Boardwalk universe. I have no idea where Season Three starts but I do know that it’ll be fresh and exciting but it’ll be dampened by the absence of Jimmy Darmody.

To the lost.” – James Darmody

Richard Harrow's mask

Boardwalk Empire – “Gershwin and Bunkum” Review

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You think I can’t play this game?” -Jimmy
I don’t think you even know the rules.” -Nucky

There seems to be two different types of Boardwalk Empire. Those that take their time and are boring slogs and those that take their time but compel the audience. This episode was most definitely the latter of the two. Boardwalk Empire is unapologetically slow, but certain episodes we get fully engrossed in the world they’ve so meticulously built. What usually separates these types of episodes are the characters they choose to focus on and how they move their lives along.

This episode featured the most amount of Richard Harrow I think we’ve ever got and that is a great thing. HIs character is so compelling because of the amount of mystery and intrigue that surrounds him. We as an audience member can’t get a read on him. Even Jimmy Darmody couldn’t get a read on him. I, for one, thought he was gaining confidence and was going to be an unstoppable soldier, but instead he went for a suicide march in the woods.

That time we spent in the woods with Richard, Glenmore and Pete was just so interesting and so different from anything else we’ve seen on the show. A moment in the wilderness where we get to see a man make all sorts of decisions about his life with almost zero words. When Glenmore looked him in the eye and said, “These woods are for livin’, you understand?” You could see so much working in Richard Harrow’s eye(s).

Another character we got to spend some time with this episode that we haven’t in a while was Eli. He had some really excellent moments, not the least of which was his confrontation with Nucky. I didn’t think Nucky would accept him back so easily but I thought he would just throw him out. That fight will certainly escalate the situation very quickly.

With the Commodore’s sickness and impending death, Eli and Jimmy’s team is feeling the noose tighten. Poor George was the first person to overstep his boundaries and it resulted in his brutal bludgeoning. The other one was the self righteous benefactor that whacked Jimmy with his cane to teach him some respect. This resulted in Jimmy teaching him some respect by scalping him. This episode really didn’t pull any of the punches when it came to the killings. As Nucky gets more and more power, the people not on his team will look to grasp at all sorts of straws on the way down.

Nucky is getting more and more of his power back and I think that’s good for the show. He sets things in motion, he provides conflict. Everyone wants what he has, so the scramble for it is very interesting. So when he doesn’t get everything he wants it sticks out. I don’t think we should so quickly overlook the fact that he didn’t get safe passage from the attorney general. Nucky’s path appears to be paved smoothly, but certainly there will be plenty of potholes.

For one, I don’t think Jimmy will back down nearly as easily as Eli did. Jimmy will get something working with New Yor or Al Capone. Now that he has a new and focused Richard Harrow, I’d say he poised to take the next steps to gaining some power. I’m also willing to bet that the benefactors will be more than ready to listen him now that he’s scalped one of them.

It is worth noting that yet another great Boardwalk Empire episode took place without Van Alden and Lucy. Since the show’s central conflict isn’t really about bootlegging anymore, Van Alden doesn’t really have a place. And if the plan is to keep Lucy hidden until she has the baby, then she needs to have the baby so she can effect other characters. No one is watching the show to see the domestic disputes of Van Alden and Lucy. On the same side, this episode didn’t feature any Chalky White. His story is tied to Nucky, but only loosely. I’m anxious to see how it all comes together with these seemingly outside stories.

Boardwalk Empire Nucky Thompson 21

Boardwalk Empire – “21” Review

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You’ll be judged by what you succeed at, boy. Not by what you attempt.” -The Commodore

I’m not sure if I’m going to be in the majority with this review, but I don’t think Boardwalk Empire is a great show. Good? Sure it’s good. But I think this show thinks it’s something more than that. The biggest problem is that the show is kind of boring. I don’t find Steve Buscemi as an engaging leading man. The supporting characters are much more interesting. The production value is through the roof. The show looks amazing, but the show just has the illusion of being great TV. It’s not amazing. It’s just good.

Let’s take a look at the episode itself. Chalky White, played brilliantly by Michael K Williams, is one of those supporting characters that immediatley livens up the show. That scene with the KKK shooting up his business was so well done. We saw the fear in his eyes as the klansman approached him with the gun. Then his scene with Nucky and Eli where he said he was getting out of the business was so touching.

It was set up with his son playing the piano. It really showed the difference between the two gangsters lives. Chalky and Nucky both make their money by nefarious means, but Chalky seems much more at peace and calm. There was this brilliant conflict set up about Chalky still being at fault for killing white men despite him just defending himself, but then they abandoned it. They sort of went on to other things. We never see Chalky again in the episode and I think that’s a problem. Instead we got a heavy dose of the endlessly boring Van Alden.

The show has this fascination with Van Alden and I’m really not sure why. He got a little interesting toward the end of last season when he went crazy, but a character shouldn’t have to go crazy to be interesting. The episode went out of their way to show him on his best (read boring) behavior. I think there was entirely too much time spent on his date with his wife. I know that they were going for a big pay off when it was revealed that he’s living with Paz de la Huerta because she’s pregnant with his child, but the pay off just wasn’t there.

His character is written to be reserved. So the show really has to fight with being exciting when he’s on screen. Such decorum is required by everyone around him and I know why they do it, but I question how much screen time they gave to him. They could use that screen time for the real star of the show, Michael Pitt.

Michael Pitt’s portrayal of Jimmy Darmody is nothing short of spectacular. He was robbed of an Emmy nomination. He won our first ADTV for Best Supporting Actor in a drama. He’s phenomenal. Yet, they seemed to scale back his role. They’re trying to make him some mystery again. We know that he’s trying to replace Nucky as the king of Atlantic City, but we hear Nucky talk about how something is different with Jimmy rather than see that something is different with Jimmy. Boardwalk does this a lot. They talk about a lot of things rather than show us. I know that it helps make the action seem really intense, but it comes at a cost.

Even though the show does have a problem with using too many words, one area where they succeed at keeping it simple is with Richard Harrow, the man with half a face. He can just be on screen and he’s captivating. Even his few words are meaningful. The scene where he’s eating with Jimmy was one of my favorites of the episode. He’s not afraid to kill people, but he gets shy eating in front of people. He even becomes a little jealous of Jimmy’s life. His line, “How does it feel to have everything?” Was so well delivered. Jack Huston is doing really great work here. I couldn’t be more excited that they’ve added him to the cast full time.

So after all the talk, what was different after this episode than when it began? We’ve already talked about Chalky getting out of the game. This opens up a corner of the bootlegging market that will need to be filled. But really, the big event is that Nucky is arrested for election fraud. However, did it seem like a big deal at all? It was a huge event politically, but yet it just seemed like show just stumbled across it. If they don’t think it’s a big deal, why should we?

And to be honest, a lot of the political talk goes over my head. They introduce a lot of political players from all over the united states and I’m never sure who’s working for who and what means what. It seems like they are just telling their audience, “Hey, there’s politics. It’s important to Nucky, but that’s all you need to know.” I really think that show could stand to focus the politics a little.

So how did everyone else feel about this episode? I felt it was a bit of a bore. I wish I could let the show build up on my DVR and then marathon it. I feel like it would play better as a 13 hour movie, rather than a week to week drama.

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